Thursday 29 October
|Distant record shot of the Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda |
A wonderful day's birding based on the "Osuna triangle" with my Swedish friend, Hans Berjesson. Just as well we went today as entry into Seville province is now forbidden. To add to the birding misery, we now know that both Lagua Dunce in Campillos and Fuente de Piedra are also out of bounds. As if that were not enough, with entry to Granada province also curtailed from midnight that means no further trips to the Charca de Suarez, Motril for the next few weeks or so depending upon long the restrictions remain in place. Just as well then I shall be back in the UK for three weeks -unless that, too, is cancelled at the last minute!
Spotless Starling, House Sparrow and Kestrel as we arrived in Osuna at the start of our circuit at 9.30 along with both Collared and Rock Doves. Strange to relate, on this occasion no Stone Curlews awaiting us as we approached the olive groves. However, we did find our first Black Redstart and then, perhaps even "Bird of the Day" at such a beginning, a number of Song Thrushes along with the occasional Blackbird feeding in the open rows of olives. Parking the car at the first gap on the road we spent some time walking back to check the trees more carefully and soon Goldfinch, Serin, Chaffinch, Robin and a White Wagtail were recorded. Hans heard a Meadow Pipit as it flew over and on the opposite side of the road Chiffchaff, Stonechat and Sardinian Warbler. Next followed Crested Lark and Sky Larks were singing above us.
So off along the country lane parallel to the railway line. We stopped to admire a couple of Zitting Cisticola before taking longer to study the tree alongside the railway holding a score or more Spanish Sparrows. In the distance a passing marsh harrier before the nearer fist of many Red Kites seen during the visit. Once having added Wood Pigeon and overflying Lesser Black-backed Gulls along with a Hoopoe we continued on to the first of the high bridges over the now abandoned high speed rail track.
|Spanish Sparrows Gottion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis|
Once on top of the bridge despite much scoping of the fields below we were unable to find any of the local Great Bustards. White Wagtails and Blackcaps were drinking from a puddle on the entrance track below along with a "ticking" Robin and even a Booted Eagle made a close appearance. Moving on to the second bridge we recorded more Stonechats along with an Iberian Grey Shrike and the first of many Buzzards. Linnets and Goldfinches were also seen. From the bridge I was able to pick out a large flock of Calandra Larks and a number of Ravens were also recorded.
But still no Great Bustards so we continued over the bridge and through the trees to the fields beyond. Stopping at the "T" junction at the end of the track we duly scope the fields in front. A Northern Wheatear was resting on a large stone and then Hans was first to find our target bird for the day, the Great Bustard. On this occasion we managed to count 18 resting birds along with a Buzzard resting on a large stone just beyond the flock.
|Great Bustards Avutarda Comun Otis tarda (Note Buzzard Buteo buteo at back)|
With many a smile on our faces we continued to the end of the road, took a left to stop a little further along the road so that we could check out the "hidden laguna" in the trees to our left. Here we found about fifty White Storks and half as many Flamingo. Also present a pair of Avocet plus Black-winged Stilts, Mallard, Shoveler and Coot. As if on cue a Little Grebe popped up from below the surface. Back the way we came to take the first turning on the left towards La Lantejuela and once over the high bridge we saw another pair of Kestrels along with a couple of Griffon Vultures. Both Corn Bunting and Hoopoe were seen on the wires before also adding a Common Starling and stopping to check the Ravens in a nearby tree we also found a trio of Red-legged Partridge.
Following a coffee stop as we entered the village we made our way to the enclosed nature reserve and looking over thew all were able to find Flamingo, Black-winged Stilt, mallard, Shoveler, Teal and a single Shelduck. A number of both Moorhen and Coot before finding both Ringed Plover and Green Sandpiper on the far bank along with a large Fox. A lonely Cattle Egret was standing in the water and on the rocks in front of us a pair of Snipe.
Time to head off and as we left the village a quick shout to Hans to stop as I had found the looked for Black-shouldered Kite on top of a roadside pole. And hardly we moved away than we added more Buzzards and Kestrel before eventually seeing a low flying Sparrowhawk.
Around forty minutes later we arrived in Campillos and drove on to the Laguna Ducle which was now showing much less water than on my previous visit . At least an hundred White-headed Ducks on the water with more than twice that number of Coots. To the right a dozen or so Flamingo and to the left small numbers of Black-headed and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Very few Mallards but good numbers of Shoveler and even a quartet of Red-crested Pochard before we found a few Gadwall. On the far bank a large flock of Lapwing which were regularly put up by the adult female and juvenile Marsh Harriers that quartered the far side of the water. Lots of Little Grebe and then we found a single Black-necked Grebe. Whilst there a couple of Herons hiding in the reeds on the far side behind the Flamingos behind us we had both singing Great Tit and Cetti's Warbler.
|Flamingo Flamenco Comun Phoenicopterus roseus with Marsh Harrier Circus aeruginosus in tree|
And so time to head for hoe taking the Malaga road via Ardales. A quick stop at the cliff face of Penarrubia produced a dozen Griffon Vultures plus Short-toed Eagle, Chough and Crag Martins and as we approached Ardales Hans pointed out the large number of vultures circling above the distant feeding station. A thoroughly good day's birding in great company that produced a final total of 68.
|High and distant Griffon Vulture Buitre Leonado Gyps fulvus |
Shelduck, Gadwall, Mallard, Shoveler, Teal, Red-crested Pochard, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Little Grebe, Black-necked Grebe, Cattle Egret, Heron, White Stork, Flamingo, Black-shouldered Kite, Red Kite, Short-toed Eagle, Griffon Vulture, Marsh Harrier, Booted Eagle, Sparrowhawk, Buzzard, Kestrel, Moorhen, Coot, Great Bustard, Black-winged Stilt, Avocet, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Snipe, Green Sandpiper, Black-headed Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Hoopoe, Calandra Lark, Crested Lark, Sky Lark, Crag Martin, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, Robin, Black Redstart, Stonechat, Northern Wheatear, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Cetti's Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Sardinian Warbler, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Iberian Grey Shrike, Chough, Raven, Common Starling, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Spanish Sparrow, Chaffinch, Serin, Goldfinch, Linnet, Corn Bunting.
|Our chirpy Spanish Sparrows Gottion Moruno Passer hispaniolensis|
Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information